One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Verbum Caro Factum Est A Christmas Greeting
Masato Suzuki (organ)
Bach Collegium Japan Chorus/Masaaki Suzuki
rec. 2018, Kobe Shoin Women’s University Chapel, Japan
Full texts and translations included
Reviewed in Stereo and Surround
BIS BIS-2291 SACD [68:21]

The Bach Collegium Japan’s annual Christmas Eve concert at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo is a recent initiative; the first was held in 2013. The present disc contains a compilation of carols used in these recent events, all have been arranged by Masato Suzuki who has planned and organised each concert. The Bach Collegium Chorus is inevitably conducted by his father, Masaaki, while this recording was made in early 2018 in Suzuki pŤre’s home city of Kobe. The carols here are interspersed with seven pieces from Louis-Claude Daquin’s celebrated ‘New Book of Noels for Organ or Harpsichord’ (1757). These pieces comprise variations on traditional French carols, and over the centuries a couple of these pieces have become very well-known.

It’s a curious disc which to my mind can’t decide what it actually is or is meant to be. It opens with a version of Verbum caro factum est for solo voice, atmospherically rendered by Aki Matsui, one of the sopranos from the chorus; the closing three-part arrangement of the same carol acts as the recessional. To my ears the most enjoyable choral items are those that overlap with the group’s core repertoire, the Bach hymn Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier, and Samuel Scheidt’s O Jesulein sŁss, o Jesulein mild but in this context and in Suzuki fils’ syrupy arrangements even their impact is somewhat diluted. Despite the best efforts of this fine choir, I’m afraid I found the other choral items almost unlistenable. ‘Silent Night’ is schmaltzed up to the eyeballs, almost like a parody of Peter Warlock. I’m afraid I’ve always loathed ‘The First Nowell’; here Suzuki tries to inject some life into it by adding a hazy mystic-style intro it doesn’t need and a series of almost Eurovision-style modulations to the verses which finally kill it off. ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ is sung in Japanese, and breaks into a reprise of Verbum caro factum est after the first verse; the return of Mendelssohn’s melody afterwards is jarring indeed. The ‘oom-pah’ arrangement of Adeste fidelis is frankly bizarre. There follows a medley of three carols which seem poorly juxtaposed. I take absolutely no pleasure in criticising what is clearly a well-intentioned recital from a group who over the years have virtually single-handedly reinvigorated my love of Bach’s cantatas, and maybe this sort of festive fare plays well with a Japanese audience, but the carols here left me open-mouthed for all the wrong reasons.

Furthermore, I find it odd that roughly half of the disc consists of organ music, in the shape of seven of Daquin’s celebrated NoŽls. These are stylishly rendered by Masato Suzuki on a fine instrument, the 1983 Marc Garnier organ of the Shoin Chapel in Kobe. Suzuki’s colourful registrations consistently enliven music which possesses a winning joie de vivre as it is and frankly in the event I was glad these NoŽls do feature on this disc, regardless of its cumbersome layout. Suzuki’s accounts are certainly worth hearing. Which begs the question, why didn’t he simply record all twelve as part of a Christmas-themed organ recital? I find these fine accounts sit really uncomfortably with carol arrangements which at times approach the world of the Cliff Adams Singers and ‘Sing Something Simple’ for honeyed sentimentality. I have no qualms about the recording which is vivid enough in both formats – the Daquin pieces sound especially resplendent in the surround option. But the disc as a whole struck me as a rare disappointment from BIS and the Suzukis.

Richard Hanlon
Carols all arranged by Masato Suzuki
trad.: Verbum caro factum est [1:01]
Louis-Claude DAQUIN (1694-1772): Nouveau livre de noŽls, Op. 2/1 [3:45]
trad.: Let all mortal flesh keep silence [3:20]
Daquin: Nouveau livre de noŽls, Op. 2/2 [4:17]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750): Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier, BWV469 [2:32]
Daquin: Nouveau livre de noŽls, Op. 2/3 [6:13]
Franz Gruber: Silent Night, GWV 145 [3:19]
trad.: In Dulci Jubilo [1:36]
trad.: The First Nowell [4:01]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847) adap W.H. Cummings as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing) [4:42]
Anon/J F Wade: Adeste fidelis [2:28]
Three carols: Away In a Manger - It Came Upon The Midnight Clear - Ding, Dong! Merrily On High [3:58]
Daquin: Nouveau livre de noŽls, Op. 2/6 [4:54]
Daquin: Nouveau livre de noŽls, Op. 2/7 [3:39]
Samuel SCHEIDT (1587-1684): O Jesulein sŁss, o Jesulein mild [2:53]
Daquin: Nouveau livre de noŽls, Op. 2/10 [5:58]
trad.: O come, o come, Emmanuel [4:10]
Daquin: Nouveau livre de noŽls, Op. 2/12 [4:01]
trad.: Verbum caro factum est (arr. for 3 voices) [1:46]

We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger